Without MAP monitoring software, it’s pretty much impossible to enforce your pricing policy. If you have more than a handful of SKUs and sell your products on multiple storefronts, manually monitoring your product pricing is both inefficient and ineffective.
MAP monitoring software automates the process by keeping tabs on your product pages and letting you know when a seller violates your policy.
But several factors determine how well MAP monitoring software works. Choose the wrong software, and it may let violations slip through the cracks undetected, or fail to give you the information you need to follow up with offenders.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the questions you need to ask when choosing a MAP monitoring software, so you can confidently select the best tool for the job.
For starters, you need to know what it’s actually capable of monitoring.
How many websites can it monitor?
Every MAP monitoring software brand says they can monitor your SKUs across the web. But there’s a limit to what their software can see. They may only monitor particular websites, or a certain number of them. Or they may only watch sellers on a handful of marketplaces. There may also be a limit to the number of SKUs they can keep track of.
At the very least, you need to know if the software you’re selecting can monitor the resellers you currently work with. But you also want to be confident that as your brand expands into new marketplaces, your MAP monitoring software will be able to keep up.
Our price monitoring software, Prowl, can monitor all of your SKUs across more than 20 marketplaces (like Amazon and Walmart) and an unlimited number of ecommerce sites.
How frequently does it pull data?
As you compare MAP monitoring software platforms, one of the biggest differences you’ll see is how often they check your price. Some programs don’t even pull pricing data on a daily basis, so flash sales can easily violate your price undetected. Some pricing software companies claim that they offer “real-time” price monitoring, but it’s important to clarify what they mean by that. (It’s definitely not 24/7.)
The best MAP monitoring software programs will check your price several times a day. Prowl checks eight times a day at unpredictable intervals, so it’s harder for resellers to game the system and plan price drops around when your software pulls data. Many programs check pricing on a consistent schedule, which creates opportunities for sellers to temporarily sneak in a lower price while you’re not looking.
How frequently you need your software to check pricing data depends on how seriously you want to take MAP monitoring. You’re paying for a tool to do a job. If you want it to actually do that job, you need software that pulls data as often as possible. The more frequently your MAP software checks your price, the lower the risk of it missing a pricing violation.
Do you need to monitor in-cart pricing and special offers?
A lot of MAP monitoring software will simply crawl your product pages and call it good. If your pricing policy only specifies the price a seller “publicly displays,” then that may be all you need. But if your pricing policy is more comprehensive and includes the in-cart price and other promotional deals, you’re going to need something more advanced.
Some retailers tell customers to “Add to cart to see price,” or they’ll offer coupons and discounts once the item gets in cart. That’s why Prowl doesn’t simply crawl your product pages. It explores ecommerce sites and marketplaces like a customer would, adding your products to a shopping cart and checking special discounts for potential violations.
If you’re only worried about monitoring the publicly facing price, you don’t need that functionality. But some retailers use strategies like these to work around price monitoring software, and if you want to fully protect your price, you need in-cart data.
Can you tell “who moved first?”
Every MAP violation does damage. But the first violation is the one you need to worry about most. If someone is consistently the first to violate your price, you need to know.
When one seller drops their price, others follow. Thanks to tools like repricing software, it often happens automatically. A single MAP violation creates a domino effect—a chain reaction of dangerously low prices. And as other sellers adjust their price to compete with the original violator, the original violator may lower their price even further, triggering a race to the bottom price war where no one wins, and you lose the most.
In Prowl, you can see a timeline of violations on each SKU, so when there’s a spike in violations, you know who’s responsible.
These sellers are doing more harm than good, and you don’t want to keep them around. With better visibility into your MAP violations, problem sellers can’t hide behind the sheer volume of violations.
This kind of functionality obviously depends on how frequently your MAP monitoring software pulls pricing data. If it only collects data on certain days of the week or certain times of day, it’s not going to have the frequency of data you need to see who started the price war on your product.
What if you don’t have contact information for a seller?
Communication with sellers is an essential part of MAP enforcement. That’s why unknown sellers are such a challenge for brands that want to protect their prices. Obscure sellers are often the most willing to violate your MAP policy, and they’re also the hardest to actually contact.
Without a name, email address, mailing address, or phone number, it’s nearly impossible to follow up on a violation. (This is why you need a clear MAP policy that includes tangible consequences.)
If you have a lot of unknown sellers, some MAP monitoring software programs won’t be very useful. They’ll just show you a bunch of violations you can’t do anything about.
That’s why Prowl connects your seller database with our own proprietary database. We work with thousands of brands, and as those brands identify new sellers, we make their contact information available to other brands that work with that seller.
You can’t enforce your MAP policy if you don’t know who’s violating it. So make sure your MAP monitoring software has tools to help you “get to know” unknown sellers.
What happens when there’s a pricing violation?
You’re not going to be staring at a MAP monitoring dashboard all day. So when there’s a problem, you need software that lets you know right away. Ideally, the moment someone violates your pricing policy, your MAP monitoring software should send an instant alert via email and in-app notifications.
The longer you wait to act, the greater risk that you’ll have more violations. If a seller made an error, you want them to correct it immediately. If someone is intentionally violating your price, you want to dish out consequences right away so that they know:
- You’re watching
- You’re taking your policy seriously
- Violating your policy isn’t worth the risk
A timely response can help discourage a seller from making future MAP violations. Catch it fast enough, and you may even stop the domino effect before it causes too much price erosion. But you simply can’t do that if you don’t learn about violations until you open the software.
MAP monitoring software isn’t a program you want to be in all the time. With instant alerts, you can make sure you’re only spending time in it when you need it.
How does MAP enforcement work in the software?
Identifying MAP violations is only half the battle. If you don’t enforce your policy and provide consequences for violations, your pricing policy is useless. So while you want to make sure your MAP monitoring software gives you access to the data you need, you also need to think about how you’ll be using that data.
Responding to MAP violations is a tedious, repetitive process that could easily be a full-time job for larger brands. But with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Prowl lets you respond to MAP violations and email sellers from the same place you identify them, right inside the software. If a seller appeals a violation, you can easily forward the relevant information to your legal counsel.
You can even automate parts of the process. Custom templates make it easy to respond professionally every time. And you can save even more time by replying to batches of violations at once.
We’ll also do the heavy lifting by retrieving screenshots of price violations so that you always have evidence.
The whole point of MAP monitoring software is to make this process more manageable. The less you have to do manually, the better.
What does the analytics side look like?
MAP monitoring software is continually collecting a mountain of data. It’s tracking all your SKUs throughout your entire seller network and documenting violations. Before you choose a program, it’s worth asking:
- What does that data look like?
- What can you do with that data in the platform?
- How do I navigate to the information I need?
As you monitor your SKUs and respond to violations, pay attention to which SKUs see the most violations, how many violations a given seller has, how long it’s been since their last violation, and other data points and views that help you better manage your catalog and make informed decisions about your seller relationships.
It’s not enough to simply have all the right information. Your MAP monitoring software needs to organize it in a way you can actually use.
What kind of customer support is available?
Choosing the right tool also means choosing the right company. You need to be confident that if there’s ever a problem, you’re working with a team you can trust to take care of it. What happens if you need support, or have a unique situation you need to talk through with an expert?
At PriceSpider, we’ve been perfecting our data crawling technology and MAP monitoring software for more than 15 years. Nearly 2,000 brands trust our platform and turn to our industry expertise, and we give each of them the time and attention they need to be successful with our tools. Our representatives work with you to identify your brand’s biggest needs and explore how our software can help you reach your goals.
PriceSpider began by creating custom ecommerce solutions for our clients. To this day, we work with each of our clients to ensure we’re building the tools that best serve their industry.
See the best MAP monitoring software in action
When it comes to MAP monitoring software, Prowl is simply the best brands can buy. It pulls pricing information more frequently, monitors more sellers, and gives you better visibility than any other program. If you want to protect your price without spending all your time responding to MAP violations, this is the tool you need.
We’ll prove it. Schedule a demo, and one of our experts will walk you through the software, answer your questions, and showcase how Prowl protects your brand.
Schedule a demo to see Prowl for yourself.